Suzanne Margaret "Sue" Basso (née Burns; May 15, 1954 – February 5, 2014) was an American woman who was one of six co-defendants convicted in the August 1998 torture and murder of Louis "Buddy" Musso, a mentally disabled man who was killed for his life insurance money. She was sentenced to death in October 1999. Basso was executed by lethal injection on February 5, 2014. Prior to her execution, Basso had been held at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, where all of the state's female death row inmates are incarcerated. At the time of this crime, Basso lived in Jacinto City, Texas, a Houston suburb.
Buddy Musso had been married previously and had a son with his wife, who died of cancer in 1980. In 1997, Musso was living in an assisted living house in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, near New York City, and worked as a bagger at a ShopRite store. At age 58, he met Suzanne Basso, who was 43 at the time, at a church bazaar near his house. They started a long-distance relationship and he planned to move to Texas with Basso. He moved to the Houston area on June 14, 1998.
Suzanne Basso was born on May 15, 1954 to a family from Schenectady, New York. She was one of eight children born to Florence (née Garrow) and John Richard Burns. Florence was the elder sister of spree killer Robert Garrow. Of the three girls in the family, Suzanne was the youngest.
Basso married a Marine named James Peek in the early 1970s. Her name became "Sue Peek" as a result of her marriage. Sue's daughter was born in 1973 and her son was born in 1974. Peek was arrested in 1982 for molesting his daughter and convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child. In the early 1990s, Sue, Peek, and the children moved into one residence in Houston. The family changed its surname to O'Malley and adopted an Irish-American identity. While in Houston she sometimes worked as a security guard in an apartment complex.
In 1993, Sue became romantically involved with a New Jersey man named Carmine Basso, who owned a company called Latin Security and Investigations Corp. She never divorced Peek and therefore was unable to marry Basso, who moved into her residence. Peek stayed in the house for a period before moving to another residence in Houston. Despite being unable to marry Basso, Sue changed her surname to Basso and began referring to Basso as her husband. Basso died in 1997.
Musso's murder took place sixteen days after his arrival at the Basso residence. The perpetrators included Basso; her son James O'Malley; Bernice Ahrens Miller and her children, Craig and Hope Ahrens; and Hope's fiancé, Terence Singleton. The perpetrators forced Musso to do chores for them, and he had injuries before his murder took place. According to O'Malley, Musso was killed at Miller's apartment, where he was beaten and burned with cigarettes as he sat on a child's play mat. The group also used a wire brush on him, then put him in a bathtub that was filled with kitchen cleaner and bleach. They put clothes on Musso's body before leaving it in Galena Park, Texas. A jogger found the body and called police. The Galena Park Police Department ruled that Musso's death was due to "multiple blunt impact trauma."
Trial, sentencing and death
Mary Lou Keel, a Texas district judge, established that most of the suspects would get individual trials. The prosecutors were Colleen Barnett and Denise Nassar. The trial of O'Malley was scheduled to begin on April 13, 1999. Craig Ahrens' trial was scheduled to begin later that month. Miller and Singleton were to be tried together during a trial beginning in May. The trial for Hope Ahrens was scheduled for June. The final trial, that of Basso, was scheduled for July.
O'Malley was convicted of capital murder and received a life sentence. Miller was convicted of murder and received 80 years in prison. Craig was convicted of murder and received 60 years in prison. Singleton was convicted of capital murder and received a life sentence. Hope's trial resulted in a hung jury, but she took a plea deal in exchange for testifying against Basso. She received a 20-year sentence. Suzanne Basso was convicted and sentenced to death. Basso was held at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Mountain View Unit in Gatesville while on death row.
Since Texas no longer serves last meal requests on death row, Basso ate regular prison fare of baked chicken, fish, boiled eggs, carrots, green beans, and sliced bread. She was executed on February 5, 2014, at the Huntsville Unit of the TDCJ. When asked if she had a last statement, she replied to the prison warden, "No, sir." She was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m. CST, eleven minutes after a lethal dose of the drug pentobarbital was administered.
As of 2015 the other perpetrators are incarcerated at the following prisons:
- James O'Malley: Hodge Unit
- Bernice Ahrens: Hobby Unit
- Craig Ahrens: Ferguson Unit
- Hope Ahrens: Lockhart Unit
- Terence Singleton: Ferguson Unit
As a result of the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gregg v. Georgia, capital punishment was reinstated in the United States. With her execution, Basso became:
- the 14th woman executed in the U.S. since 1976
- the 7th murderer executed in the U.S. in 2014
- the 1,366th murderer executed in the U.S. since 1976
- the 2nd murderer executed in Texas in 2014
- the 510th murderer executed in Texas since 1976